One of the most prevalent hurdles I see for B2B companies is that they don’t know which marketing tools and tactics they should be using.
Often, they hear about a particular tactic, jump on the bandwagon and then when it doesn’t work out, they’ll say, “Marketing doesn’t work for our company” and stop marketing. I call it 'shiny marketing syndrome' and it's an unfortunate affliction.
Every B2B company wants a standard prescription for which tactics to use. I wish there was a single, simple answer. But in reality many factors influence which marketing tactics a B2B company should use. Here are some critical considerations:
The target market
The company’s position in the market
How much marketing the company has done in the past
Competitors' marketing efforts
The company’s goals
The company’s marketing budget
…and that's just a few.
But there are some rules that will guide you in choosing the right tactics.
The first marketing tactic for a B2B company should be sales support tools. If you have a sales force (even if it’s just the CEO) but don’t have effective tools for presenting your solution to customers and demonstrating the value you provide, the sales team is not able to do its job and the company’s investment is squandered. The basic sales support tools vary by industry, but some to consider are website (that accurately reflects the company’s solutions and value), company overview and product technical specification sheets. Other sales support tools that can be helpful include product demonstration videos, ROI calculators, case studies and testimonials.
Beyond these basics, tactics should be chosen based on the results they can deliver, starting with the biggest potential ROI to the lowest.
The highest value revenues usually come from selling existing products or services to existing customers and the lowest from selling new products or services to new customers.
With this in mind, what can you do to promote existing products to existing customers? Tactics like email are a good choice for keeping customers abreast of technical improvements, telling them about new applications for your solutions, and generally reminding them that you exist.
Next up is selling new products to existing customers. Your existing base should be the target for selling more of your full product line. They should also be the starting point for product launches. Invite them to upcoming "lunch n learns," webinars and trade shows to showcase your latest innovations.
Then come the tactics for promoting existing products to new customers. Here is where you’ll consider tactics like SEO, PR and executive seminars.
And finally, pursue new revenues among new customers.
What’s interesting is that most companies start with this last category when they think about marketing. But as you can see, this isn’t where to start if maximizing ROI is the goal of your marketing.
Admittedly, this framework isn’t as black and white as the matrix suggests. Many tactics cross between quadrants. A trade show might touch all 4—from existing products to existing customers right over to new products to new customers. All the same, it’s good guidance for evaluating the right tactics for your B2B company.